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Biden’s maritime cybersecurity actions target China threats

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The White House has unveiled a comprehensive strategy to bolster cybersecurity in the maritime industry and revive domestic crane manufacturing, aiming to reduce reliance on Chinese-made port cranes.

This multifaceted approach includes an executive order and various initiatives to fortify the cybersecurity of the American marine transportation system (MTS) while promoting a resurgence in domestic port crane production.

Addressing the pressing need for enhanced cybersecurity, the administration's initiatives aim to safeguard America's vital ports, which employ 31 million people and contribute $5.4 trillion to the economy. The executive order grants the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Coast Guard expanded authority to address maritime cyber threats directly, mandating reporting of incidents endangering vessels, harbors, ports, or waterfront facilities. Furthermore, the Coast Guard is empowered to control vessels suspected of posing cyber threats and inspect facilities deemed risky to US cybersecurity.

Of notable concern are Chinese-made ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, prompting the issuance of a Maritime Security Directive (MARSEC) requiring risk management actions for these cranes at US ports. The advisory highlights risks associated with integrating Chinese technologies and emphasizes the need for heightened cybersecurity measures.

The Coast Guard also proposed minimum cybersecurity requirements for US-flagged vessels and facilities, seeking public feedback on regulatory measures to combat emerging threats. However, regulations do not extend to foreign-flagged vessels to avoid diplomatic complications, relying on international standards established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) instead.

In a bid to revitalize domestic crane manufacturing, the administration plans to invest over $20 billion in port infrastructure, including grants and collaborations with trusted partners like PACECO Corp. The endeavor seeks to diminish US dependence on Chinese crane production, marking a crucial step towards bolstering national security.

Lawmakers and cybersecurity experts have welcomed the Biden administration's initiatives, recognizing them as long overdue steps towards fortifying port security and reducing vulnerability to cyber threats. While applauding these efforts, experts stress the importance of adequate funding and detailed implementation to effectively address cybersecurity challenges in the maritime industry.


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Source: CSO